Monday, July 1st, 2013 -- The energy was contagious. 1,500 families, school administrators and community advocates packed the Centro Cultural Paso del Norte to support and view the end-of-year presentation of 500 nine to 10 year-old children.
The one hour performance featured the work of the ValorArte Para Niñas y Niños program implemented in the most marginalized, gang-ridden communities in the municipality of Cd. Juarez by FEMAP. The theme was “Mexico in Celebration” and reflected the cultural heritage of the country’s different regions. Luchadores (wrestlers), Day of the Dead dances with masks, Mariachis, futbol (soccer), and traditional rural and urban dances were highlighted. For the first time, participating school teachers were part of the show.
“Valor Arte is based on the National Dance Institute in New York City. The program was founded by dancer Jacques d’Amboise in the belief that the arts have a unique power to engage children and motivate them toward excellence,” says Lic. Maria Eugenia Parra - FEMAP’s Youth Programs Director. “Each year, ValorArte transforms the lives of hundreds children and their communities through weekly dance and art classes, and public performances. The program goes into marginalized, gang-ridden areas of the municipality to work with children to ensure you develop personal standards of excellence, discipline, understanding of others, a pride of achievement, and a curiosity about the world that supports their success in school and in life”
Participating schools include Lázaro Cárdenas, Guadalupe Victoria, Apóstoles del Agrarismo, Felipe Ángeles, Mariano Irigoyen, Francisco González Bocanegra and Norberto Hernandez. The dance portion of the program is complemented with classes in painting and sculpture. The pieces are then used to decorate the end-of-year program. In 2012, more than 480 dance and 120 art classes were conducted. The program is implemented by one dance instructor, a dance assistant, a live musician and two coordinators.
In the last three years, ValorArte has grown from three to five schools and is now working with 500, nine to 10 year olds. A second program, Avanzados, which means advanced in Spanish, was created for children who participated in the program but have aged-out. “Avanzados helps us keep the children who want to stay in the program,” explains Parra. The goal is that, with additional training and participation, we will create the next generation of instructors.”
FEMAP’s Youth Programs reach 10,000 children and adolescents every year.
“While others talk about transforming the future of Juarez, this program is generating and nurturing the next generation of Juarenzes by providing access to positive role models, the arts, exercise, and even if it is for only a couple of hours a day, much happiness,” adds Anna Alemán, FEMAP Foundation Executive Director. “FEMAP is helping transform our region by nurturing the future generations of Juarezes.”